The other day I wanted to see how good a Blu-Ray movie on the PC was compared to my home theater. I Googled a bunch of sites, most were complaining about this and that or they were four years or more out of date. So I decided to do a trial and error test to see how good the Blu-Ray quality can get. I wanted it to look great on Windows 8, this same setup would also work for Windows 7 or Windows Vista. Now the trick is that you want to use a good combination of hardware and software to have a good quality Blu-Ray movie. Most information you can get will tell you how to get Blu-Ray on the PC however, they fail to mention the quality.
Bad quality Blu-Ray is easy, great quality Blu-Ray take a little planning. Also you don’t want to fuss with it like some things in the computer world. Great quality Blu-Ray should work perfect after you do the intial setup just like a stand alone Blu-Ray player. I have zero tolerance for any extra messing around with settings or whatever when it comes to Blu-Ray on the PC so I only picked products that work great. Here is what I have done.
Here are some tech specs of the PC I was using… Intel i7 CPU, 8GB RAM, Intel 520 series 240GB solid state HD, AMD Radeon 6670 2GB video card, LG Blu-Ray reader, Windows 8.
Now you don’t need a PC that powerful to play Blu-Ray movies on. Intel i3 but preferred is the i5 CPU, 2GB RAM (4GB for Windows 8), any Blu-Ray player should work but I prefer any player from LG. Don’t use the onboard video card, get one that has at least 1 or 2GB of RAM.
Now when I first setup the PC it was running great. I tried a Blu-Ray movie on it and it was bad, and only in stereo sound not surround sound. At that time I was using the onboard Intel 4000 series video card that Im told by all how great it is. Whatever it is, skip it for Blu-Ray and get a good video card. I installed a AMD Radeon card that I mentioned above for about $80 and it made a big difference.
To make life easy try to use your HDMI connection. It will have the best quality video and sound all on one cable going into your home theater system. Now if you are not using the HDMI connection, try using a digital audio connection like coax or optical (you may need a surround system for this connection). The digital sound is night and day over the basic PC speakers analog sound.
I tried two software programs. Cyberlinks PowerDVD 12 and Arcsofts TotalMedia Theater 6.
PowerDVD 12: The video was bad and all I had was stereo sound but that was using the onboard Intel 4000 video card. I installed a AMD Radeon 6670 2GB card and just like that the video was good and I had full surround sound. The quality was not as good as my stand alone Blu-Ray player (I got just a basic cheap Blu-Ray stand alone player). One thing that was helpful was a program called BD & 3D advisor. Try downloading it and it will scan you computer and will let you know if it passes for Blu-Ray play back. This will also help you out with other programs as well.
Links for PowerDVD 12… http://www.cyberlink.com/
TotalMedia Theater 6: The video was better that the PowerDVD 12 player and I had surround sound using the onboard Intel 4000 video card. After installing the AMD Radeon 6670 video card I had to pay close attention to the movie chapters I was playing to check out all the areas of quality. I found that this player over 95% of the time played just as good as my stand alone Blu-Ray player. It was so good I don’t think most could tell the difference, I may not if I was not looking for imperfections. The sound was great too. The best part of TotalMedia Theater 6 is that it has an icon that goes on the Windows 8 start menu. When you click on it the Blu-Ray movie player looks and acts really slick. It has a clean, hi-res feel.
Links for TotalMedia Theater 6… http://www.arcsoft.com/
*** MAC Blu-Ray software http://www.macblurayplayer.
DON’T FORGET: Make sure you are using a the lastest video card driver, it will help a lot. Also try to stop all of the other programs running in the background if possible or they can slow down your movie.
Using a computer like the one mentioned above is the first start to getting Blu-Ray on the PC. Don’t skimp on the video card and the Blu-Ray player software. The AMD Radeon card using the HDMI connection gave me the best possible quality of video and sound, on one easy HDMI cable just like a home theater setup. The TotalMedia Theater 6 program for Windows 8 was fun from the Windows 8 start screen area and looked great too. By using the above hardware and software there will be no other settings for fixes or tweaks, it will all work good the first time.
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